Turmeric: Overview

Turmeric describes the perennial herb in the ginger family, Curcuma longa.

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Turmeric contains sugars, resins, proteins, and volatile oils including turmerone, atlantone, zingiberone; as well as the compound curcumin.


Native to Asia, turmeric plant is cultivated in India, China, and Indonesia.  The bright yellow root, used as a dye and food-coloring agent (especially curry), is the part used medicinally.


Curcumin is the best-studied component of turmeric.  Turmeric (curcumin) has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering, platelet aggregation inhibition, hepatoprotective, carminative, and antimicrobial activities.

Curcumin has been shown to inhibit leukotriene (major inflammatory mediators) formation, inhibit platelet aggregation, inhibit neutrophil responses under certain conditions, and stabilize lysosomal membranes.  These activities have made curcumin one of the most useful anti-inflammatory agents in nature.  Curcumin interacts with the adrenal glands in a way that allows the body to spare cortisol, one of the body's own inflammation control mechanisms.


Curcumin, as an anti-inflammatory agent, should be taken at a dose of about 400mg or more, three times a day.  The absorption of curcumin can be enhanced by concomitant ingestion of bromelain.

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Turmeric can help with the following:

Organ Health


250 to 500mg three times daily.  Combine with Bromelain (250 to 500mg three times per day between meals) to enhance its effects.

Tumors, Malignant

Cancer, General

Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin (the ingredient that gives turmeric its yellow color) may prevent cancer, slow its spread, enhance the effects of chemotherapy, and protect healthy cells from radiation damage.  Curcumin is being studied for use in many types of cancer.

Curcumin, which is one of the most studied of the natural COX-2 inhibitors, has been shown to inhibit the development of cancer in animals.  Dr. Chintalapally V. Rao, a scientist with the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York, has conducted extensive animal studies with curcumin and notes that while the new drugs "undermine the activity of the COX-2 enzyme, curcumin completely blocks formation of the enzyme itself."

The intriguing evidence of curcumin's anticancer effects in animal studies has prompted a clinical trial of the compound.  Dr. Steven Schiff at Rockefeller University in New York is assessing whether curcumin supplements (250mg twice a day) can inhibit the development of colon cancer in humans.

As most of the cancer-inducing chemicals in cigarette smoke are only carcinogenic during the period between activation in the liver by Phase I and final detoxification by Phase II, curcumin can help prevent the cancer-causing effects of tobacco.  Those exposed to smoke, aromatic hydrocarbons, and other environmental carcinogens will probably benefit from the frequent use of curry or turmeric.

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